Sunday, May 10, 2015

workshop cabinet countertop installed and ready to roll

finally got the countertop installed, and all the drawers populated with crap that had been hanging out on open shelves coated in thick layers of dust and goo. best part is now the west end of the shop is clear of open shelving that housed things that should never have been there given my workflow. Screws and hardware are closer to where I actually apply them instead of being on the opposite end of the garage.
The countertop is just 1/4 masonite, atop 3/4 cbx ply, and then a 2x4 frame. There's another long stick of 2x material on front with a few coats of water based poly to take a beatin'. Gotta mount my grinder before too long. That will be my sharpening area, close to the workbench. The water bucket on ammo cans below the bench is where I keep the sharpening stones.
I still keep a fair number of the important hand tools in my japanese toolbox in the corner there. some of the heavier bench planes have been relocated to drawers but we'll see how it goes.
A neighborhood kid was here with his brother for the afternoon. He stepped onto the threshold of the garage and said he likes to paint. I thought: "well that's definitely the best thing that I've heard in about 45 months!" I asked him what color he likes and he said "blue". So we set him up with a brush and some of the surplus milk paint from the cabinets. he sat for about 45 minutes painting the model of our house that i made couple years ago testing out designs for our remodel. Stick around, kid. I'll have some canvases stretched on frames for ya next time :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

workshop cabinetry progress

Well I've been busy making plywood boxes inside boxes. Working with sheets of plywood tests the muscular endurance quite a bit. Feeling pretty beat up but I think this cabinet/drawer installation will really help keep a lot tools/supplies/documentation out of the dust shroud that covers every surface here.

I used 3/4 birch ply for the cabinet carcasses with whatever extra scraps of cbx ply were kicking around the shop. Drawers and drawer fronts are 1/2" with 1/4" bottoms. Used lock-rabbet joints for drawer boxes. Full extension 75# sidemount drawer slides from Lee Valley when they had free shipping recently. they work okay, but demand you be really accurate with your drawer box sizes. I did okay, none of them were binding irretrevably and I didn't need to shim them.

This is General Finish's Milk Paint that I mixed in various amounts of Corinth Blue, Black, and Brick Red. I wanted to aim for a slate-purple but nobody around here sees it as purple. I'm colorblind and so it looked OK to me when I mixed it. I like the flat/velvety finish of milk paint well. It will scuff up a bit and that's OK.

I have my hand-tool box perched on the two ammo cans there temporarily. That space will open underneath the counter. I'll position the grinder and various sharpening habiliments on the countertop there eventually. Maybe a pattern maker's vice, too, if I can find one.

Sarah thought i was being pretty clever with my plywood portaging hack here, but there are plenty of ideas on the web of folks doing something similar. It really helps and I highly recommend you make yourself one if you're carrying even one sheet around. I can and have injured myself carrying these sheets around. My shoulders, and back do not regret it at all!

Here, i'm a bit farther along, all the drawerfronts have been applied, and there's a 2x4 web that I'm stringing across there for the "countertop" which will be 3/4 cbx ply and then 1/4 masonite.

Here are my quick-n-dirty drawer-pulls. You can imagine these being done on the tablesaw, first rabbet the edge of a board along the length, then rip to thickness, then cut the resulting stick to 4" segments, then a jig/sled that holds them at 45deg to take that last little nibble out. They are easy to grab hold of in the shop though probably not what you'd want to use in a more domestic setting :-)

the 1/2" plywood had a fair number of voids in it at $33.88 per sheet from MacBeath lumber in Berkeley.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

looking for construction techniques on intersecting compound curves

I always admired that quote by Jean Prouve: "never design something that cannot be made". here I am, flaunting that advice and wading into the deep end of the pool.

wondering how the heck i'm going to implement the following, a back to the built-in trundle bed for our guest room. overall dimensions are roughly 72" longx18" high, by about 42" depth. The trundle bed is built into the corner of the room, so this "headboard" wraps around the bed along the wall.

The idea being one could relax in an upright position and read or watch youtube videos or whatever. I wanted to make a little curve to the back for comfort, and a curve to the edges to soften the overall appearance of the structure.

So how do you make this? My running plan is a frame-and-panel approach, with coopered panels, and curved stiles. The problem is how to jig-up and route a stile groove that curves in two directions.

Edit: more on ticking sticks as a means to transfer one curve to another

Sunday, January 11, 2015

getting to know the Grizzly G1023RLW Table Saw (plus 1st project)

I'd been weighing the choice to get a table saw for years. Up to now, I got by without one through my hand saws, or a circular saw. But there are certain things I want to do where a tablesaw has an advantage, like accurate, reproducible crosscuts. or building cabinets from sheet goods. With a bathroom and kitchen remodel on my horizon, I'm hoping my table saw can get me through a lot of grunt work.

I also know it's a machine with a reputation of biting you badly if you mistreat it. I intend to operate the saw with my best discipline

I chose this Grizzly for many reasons.

  • Lots of positive reviews on forums. Here's a compelling youtube video by professional turner Stephen Ogle
  • a very accurate fence,
  • a router insert on the right side table.
  • I've had good success with the Grizzly band saw and drill press
  • Good customer service
  • Made in Taiwan
  • ~$1500 delivered to my door
  • it has more than enough power for me now (with some room to grow into with working more challenging woods).

It arrived mid December 2014 via lift gate to by driveway. Here it is in it's current formation.

The crate was well intact when I received it, I fabbed up a sturdy dolly to ease it back into my shop. luckily i had some old OSB that improvised as tracks through the perilous ginger rock sea in our garden. this was arduous.
The thing came well packed, everything had its place. no missing parts, lots of documentation. also lots of that rust protectant on the cast iron pieces. I believe the call it cosmolene. Look at those gorgeous hand wheels. They are sweet to the touch.
Some hours pass since the preceding photo and the one below. That's the shaft that a gear attaches to, for tilting the trunnion. It's bent because I managed to tip the saw over while getting it onto the mobile base. landed right on the tilt wheel. That was a bad moment. so bad, i couldn't even cuss. Try not to do that.

Grizzly tech support was very helpful, and they had a spare tilt shaft in their warehouse for something like $8 and change. I followed his instructions to verify that there was no damage to the trunnions. Since it was a slow tip-over onto a plywood floor, it seemed like the damage was localized to the shaft itself.

the upshot is that I had a week to spend removing caked on cosmoline, and waxing the gorgeous, flat machined table tops.

Since I had to take the table off and get into the guts of the machine to replace the tilt shaft, I knew I'd be on the hook to completely dial in the table alignment with the trunion. You're supposed to calibrate the machine anyway, but apparently these things tend to come from the factory in remarkably fair tune. It was good practice.

here, I'm doing my best to establish blade to miter slot parallelism. Using a 1/64th rule to measure the distance. I used the combo square to make sure the rule was perpendicular to the miter slot as possible.

Here are a few views of the arrangement. Previously I had built some 34" high roller tables that I use for all sorts of purposes in my shop, primarily for breaking down sheet goods with my track saw. very handy with lockable casters. They're about a 1/2" short of the tablesaw height, so I quickly fabbed up some outfeed planks from scrap ply. this just sits ontop of one of the tables, and the spacing allows for miter sleds to run through without interference. It works okay for now.
An accurate crosscut sled was next on the agenda. I read plans from lots of folks, tried setting the fence using the William Ng method where you take 5 successive cuts from a rectangular piece and on the last cut measure the difference in width front to back of the resulting piece. I only have a caliper measuring to 1/64th, so i'm not going to fuss too much about it. Probably the more appropriate test for me would be to cut a board in 2, flip one side and see if the edges line up OK.
Here's a panel sled, hopefully good for squaring off larger panels when doing casework.
I added a larger wood fence to the miter guage that came with the saw. The thing did not come predrilled with any way to attach the fence, so I had to drill out the holes. Luckily the metal was soft enough that my cordless drill made quick work of it.
Here's a view of the splitter/guard assy. I tried using it for a couple through cuts. Boy it really is hard to see what you're cutting with this thing in place.
For my first project, I wanted to build a roller chest of drawers like you see for automotive tools. I wanted something similar for my garage and this seemed like a low-key way to get used to the new saw. The objective was to build something as square as possible, fitting directly from the saw. This will become important as I tackle other cabinetry projects for the garage, bathroom and eventually the kitchen.

So here it is, 32" high, 20" wide, made of crappy birch ply. Waterbased poly for finish. cutting techniques used:

  • Rabbet for back pannel
  • dado/rabbet drawer box joints (from Bob Lang's Kitchen Cabinetry book -- solid read!)
  • Dados
close up of the drawer joint. Used a 1/4" dado stack.

Monday, November 3, 2014

diablo woodworker club auction jewelry box in reclaimed redwood part ii

well it's done, learned a lot and also am left with questions on finishing.

the small scale of this sort of project magnifies every little mistake. i chose a Watco danish oil finish with a few coats of wax. I'm left a little disappointed in the result with patches of a nice satiny gloss, and then some dull spots. perhaps not the best finishing schedule for redwood.

Previously, I mentioned having built the carcass wide. I saw no alternative but to remake the tail boards, 1/16" shorter. I traced them off the pins of the front and back, which is the reverse of how I normally do this operation (tails-first). the results are what they are. this is very delicate wood and fractures across the grain very easily. had to bob off the bottom of the pool on my toes to get one nostril above the waterline.

a note on these hinges. Brusso makes them. they're kind of like regular butt hinges, but htey stop at 95deg opening. I had to prune the screws a bit in order to not punch through the lid. The hinges are marvelously made, but I dont think i'll be using the 95deg kind again as I don't like the load they might put on the screws. A heavy handed user might wear out the threads of this soft redwood pretty quick. we'll just have to see.

These hinges were my first chance to use the new Lee Valley mini router plane. it was a joy to work with.

Just enough of lift off these little feet to hover the box over the surface a bit.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

diablo woodworker club auction jewelry box in reclaimed redwood part i

I've hooked up with the Diablo Woodworker Club in near by pleasant hill, CA. Nice folks who meet monthly at an adult education compound conveniently located near the BART line so I can show up at their meetings without having to drive in traffic.

What's unique to this club is that they do not charge dues, however we need to make some $ to pay for space, insurance, and usual stuff necessary for any group of people these days.

Soon the club will be entering member built work at a local craft fair to help cover expenses, so this is my first of hopefully many entries to help things along. The design I chose originates from a build-video that Marc Spagnolo did with Gary Rognowski here.

I loved the idea of gluing antique paper to the base of the box instead of the usual velvet or suede you typically see in a jewelry box. I also liked the overall proportions and there is a very handy primer in how to do bridle joints off the band saw. My project diverges by using a frame/panel lid since the hinge hardware I had wouldn't work with thin panels (but I used slip/bridle joints for the panel). I also elected to use 1/2 lap dovetails for the carcass joints to make the front side of the box as calm as possible, and show off this gorgeous redwood I found at the junk yard, Urban Ore

So now I need to figure out what my bandsaw's kerf offset is.

This is used to offset the finger joints along the fence like so

Works a Treat!

I improvised a router table from some plywood to help me groove out the panel recesses in the frame pieces. I learned it's best to do this BEFORE you cut your bridle joints as there's too little supporting wood in the tenons to resist blowout. Also, I love the feather boards. So simple to make and really hold your work to the fence.

Oh and this Lee Valley 6" square is an adorable tool. I use it almost all the time. True winner.

Here's a fix I had to do to one piece where I fired up the router when the wood was too close to the bit and it shot out the backside. Good learning experience.

Here's the lid panel, book matched from two slices of quarter sawn redwood.

The frame was squared and clamped up on top of the panel, and panel raising lines were derived insitu with the help of the blue tape gods

the bottom of the box will have magenta silk from my dear uncle michael via India. Bonded to the wood using white Elmer's diluted with water, applied with a course chip brush.

Needed to use a 25deg bevel on my 6mm chisel to shear the brittle fibers well enough. Still found this wood to be very unforgiving and weak cross grain, typical redwood, but I love it nonetheless.

And then things went awry. I mismeasured the depth of the box, and made the carcass too deep against the lid. The lid would have been the better choice to build too deep, as it's easier to trim. The half lap dovetails don't look right when the thickness of the outer end grain section gets too thin. I spent about 6 hours last night coming to the terms with the fact that there wasn't a satisfactory fix to this involving tapers. Plus I was not so happy with the way the gappy dovetails ended up. I needed the practice, and the grapes were sour.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

trundle bed part i

we've got plans to have a nice trundle bed in the corner of the guest room. The sketch-up (ketchup) drawing below shows the plywood components, excepting the one cross beam (more on that further down). These will then be clad in reclaimed redwood frame and panel facades.

For us, we wanted as low a profile as possible with the bed as it's going to mostly be used as a spot to lounge on and it's nice to be lower slung. But trundle beds tend to have a really tall profile due to the need for an extra tall span running along the opening for the lower mattress and all it's required debris. We're opting for futons with ~ 6" of loft. Casters are around 1,1/4" tall.

I talked to dad about it. he did a few quick sketches and sent them my way, recommending an aluminum I-Beam construction for the span. His calcs indicating that 2, 2" wide by 1/8" thick soft aluminum straps in a 4" I-beam should support 300 pounds of human pretty well along a 6' span. So it goes.

I concluded today with the beam, a lamination of doug fir that's 4,1/4"x2,1/2"x79,1/2" with the alu straps recessed into place. Epoxy and 2" flathead screws secure it to the wood. This ought to work, hopefully!